Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

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The Last Word: Don't strip away our Rights Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: Australasia    

Not one, but three wide-ranging inquiries. Not one, but a body of court cases and judgements. Not one, but hundreds of resolved complaints. But only one, potentially disastrous draft piece of legislation.

The debate over the Federal Government's move to repeal existing laws designed to give victims of racism in Australia some recourse has generated tremendous heat, but little light.

Essay: Why does Iran want nuclear weapons?

Essay: Why does Iran want nuclear weapons? Author: Emanuele Ottolenghi Categories: International Security, Iran, Terrorism    

During the past decade, Western diplomats have been engaged in protracted negotiations with the Islamic Republic of Iran over its nuclear program. Though a deal remains elusive, Western policymakers remain adamant that an agreement is possible. Much of their optimism is driven by a willingness to test the proposition, put forward by their Iranian counterparts, that Iran does not seek nuclear weapons on religious grounds.

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Olmert's Folly

Olmert's Folly Author: Amotz Asa-El Categories: Israel    

During 47 years in the public eye, Ehud Olmert has spent more time in and around the court system than any other Israeli politician. 

Israel's twelfth Prime Minister had been repeatedly suspected, investigated and indicted for assorted corruption charges, only to end up cleared, though sometimes with a qualifying asterisk. On March 31, at age 68, his luck ran out, as a Magistrate's Court in Jerusalem convicted Olmert of taking NIS 500,000 (~A$156,000) as a bribe back when he was Mayor of Jerusalem.

All wet on West Bank water
Part of the PA’s wasteful water infrastructure

All wet on West Bank water Author: Akiva Bigman Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

The issue of water rights in the West Bank is constantly raised in regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, appearing again and again in public discourse around the world. According to critics of Israel, the Jewish state selfishly exploits the area's water supplies and denies access to the local population. In doing so, the critics say, Israel is not only abandoning its responsibilities to the West Bank Palestinians, but ruthlessly and illegally abusing the natural resources of the occupied territory. 

Down, but not yet out

Down, but not yet out Author: Dennis Ross Categories: Israel, Palestinians    

In 2013, US Secretary of State John Kerry looked at the Middle East, saw enormous upheaval, and judged that the last thing the United States needed was to add to this upheaval. In his view, as long as there was a certain level of stability between Israelis and Palestinians, Washington's task was to build upon it and make certain it was not lost. He also believed that his personal relations with the two leaders gave him the potential to produce an agreement.

Strange Bedfellows

Strange Bedfellows Author: Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore Categories: China, International Jewry, Israel    

"Do the Jews Really Control America?" asked one Chinese newsweekly headline in 2009. The factoids doled out in such articles and in books about Jews in China - for example: "The world's wealth is in Americans' pockets; Americans are in Jews' pockets" - would rightly be seen to be alarming in other contexts. But in China, where Jews are widely perceived as clever and accomplished, they are meant as compliments.

Updates

Europa Europa: Pop-up Politics Author: Douglas Davis Categories: Europe, Israel, United Kingdom    

Europeans go to the polls in May to elect 751 members of the European Parliament for the next five years. Expect surprises. Not that the European Parliament carries much clout; clout is reserved for the army of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats in Brussels and the sprinkling of political appointees.

The surprises will come from the pop-up political parties which are, first and foremost, opposed to the stifling embrace of the EU and which long for a return to the days when the European Project aimed to be simply a tariff-free trading bloc, without the accretions of monetary and political union, along with the slew of regulations and directives that now flow from Brussels.

Scribblings: History of the Recognition Condition Author: Tzvi Fleischer Categories: International Jewry, Israel, Palestinians    

I've written before about the fallacy of media claims alleging that Israel's requirement that a peace treaty with the Palestinians recognise Israel as a "Jewish state" or "nation-state of the Jewish people" is a "new demand". Rather than something the current Netanyahu Government just thought up - possibly to thwart progress toward peace as is sometimes alleged - the idea was pushed during 2007 negotiating sessions by Tzipi Livni, then-Foreign Minister in the Olmert Government, according to the leaked Palestinian documents called the "Palestine papers".

Editorial: Upsetting the balance Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia    

For almost two decades, the provisions of Part IIA of the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA) have largely been working effectively to balance freedom of speech with protecting Australian citizens against racial vilification.

Unfortunately, as written, the language of the exposure draft of the Freedom of Speech Bill 2014 (FSB) - released by Attorney-General George Brandis on March 25 and intended to replace those provisions of the RDA - threatens to destabilise that delicate balance and roll back the progress that Australia has made in combatting racism and bigotry in our society.

Statement on former Foreign Minister Carr's recent comments Categories: Australasia, Israel, Media Releases    

AIJAC has had good relations with former Foreign Minister Bob Carr over many years and are puzzled and disappointed by his strange claims that Australian foreign policy under the previous government was under the sway of the "extraordinary influence" of a Melbourne based pro-Israel lobby - apparently a reference primarily to AIJAC. It is frankly sad when an elected official imagines that disagreement with their policy position must stem from malicious influences.

Peace process crisis/ Palestinians learning about the Holocaust?

Peace process crisis/ Palestinians learning about the Holocaust? Categories: Holocaust/ War Crimes, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

This Update leads with the crisis in the peace process, with US Secretary of State John Kerry cancelling a planned trip to the Middle East after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas signed applications for "Palestine" to join 15 international bodies in violation of the agreement underlying the deal to hold talks for nine months. This occurred after Israel failed to release a scheduled group of 26 Palestinian prisoners on March 29, arguing that Palestinians were not living up to their side of the deal by refusing to negotiate directly since November.

Khamenei’s Holocaust denial exposes a larger problem of Iranian antisemitism

Khamenei’s Holocaust denial exposes a larger problem of Iranian antisemitism Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Antisemitism, Holocaust/ War Crimes, Iran, Updates    

"Holocaust is an event whose reality is uncertain and if it has happened, it's uncertain how it has happened" read a tweet on the Twitter account of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The Supreme Leader's comments are an important reminder of the real beliefs, ideology and objectives which underpin the Iranian regime.

 A reality check on "Breaking the Silence"

A reality check on "Breaking the Silence" Author: Sharyn Mittelman Categories: Israel, NGOs, Updates    

It is interesting to note that nearly all of the criticisms of "Breaking the Silence" (BTS) recently made by AIJAC and NGO Monitor were validated by a British journalist based on his own personal experiences with the group, and with no obvious agenda.

Jake Wallis Simons works as a feature writer for Britain's Telegraph newspaper, previously worked for the BBC, is a documentary filmaker and has also written three novels. He participated in tour with BTS while carrying out interviews and research for ‘Meet the Settlers', an in-depth Telegraph multimedia feature about Israeli settlements. In an article published in the UK Telegraph titled "Why are European powers (and Oxfam) funding a radical Israel Group?", Simons documents his experience with BTS.

Three "noes" from Abbas?

Three "noes" from Abbas? Categories: Palestinians, Updates    

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas met US President Obama last week. The meeting, which one Palestinian negotiator described as "difficult",  received relatively low-key coverage at the time, but later Israeli coverage, based on US Administation sources, suggests that Abbas was particularly negative and rejected three key elements of the US Secretary of State John Kerry's "framework agreement" for peace. Yesterday, Kerry met with Abbas in Amman to try to narrow the gaps, as the US scrambles to try to find a way to keep the talks alive after their scheduled end date in late April, with the PA placing new conditions on any such continuation. This Update looks at the state of play in the peace process in the wake of Abbas' apparent "three noes" in Washington.

Media Week - Lyons in the Doogue house

Media Week - Lyons in the Doogue house Author: Allon Lee Categories: Israel, Media/ Academia, Middle East, Updates    

ABC Radio National's "Saturday Extra" (March 15) spotlighted the historic law passed by Israel's Knesset to phase out the national service exemption for thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Host Geraldine Doogue interviewed John Lyons, the Australian newspaper's Middle East correspondent, for his take on the issue.

Palestinian propaganda's "free kick" in Australian Parliament

Palestinian propaganda's "free kick" in Australian Parliament Author: Ahron Shapiro Categories: Australasia, Israel, Palestinians, Updates    

In remarks in federal Parliament on Monday, South Australian MP Tony Zappia, citing an unspecified report, claimed that "two teenage Palestinian soccer players were allegedly shot in the feet [by Israeli troops] to prevent them from ever playing soccer again."
In referencing this incident, Zappia stumbled across one of the most egregious and vile cases of anti-Israel propaganda in recent months, yet one which is most easily disprovable.

Statement on government's "exposure draft" of proposed changes to 18C

Statement on government's "exposure draft" of proposed changes to 18C Author: Colin Rubenstein Categories: Australasia, Far Right, Media Releases, Updates    

AIJAC is disappointed by the exposure draft of the Freedom of Speech (Repeal of S. 18C) Bill 2014 released by Attorney-General George Brandis today. In his bid to balance freedom of speech with the right of Australian citizens to go about their lives with dignity and free from racial harassment and vilification, it is our view that the Attorney-General has gone too far and failed to adequately safeguard the latter important rights and values...

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Exposure draft of the Freedom of Speech (Repeal of S. 18C) Bill 2014: Initial Analysis

Exposure draft of the Freedom of Speech (Repeal of S. 18C) Bill 2014: Initial Analysis Author: Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz Categories: Australasia, Updates    

Federal Attorney-General George Brandis has released an exposure draft of his proposed changes to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, which currently forbids doing an act done because of someone's ethnicity which is reasonably likely to 'offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate' that person, as well as section 18D, which provides public interest exemptions to 18C. The government has opened the draft to community consultation and called for submissions. Here is AIJAC's initial analysis of the legal implications of the exposure draft.

Palestinian rhetoric and the rejection of recognition of Israel as a Jewish homeland

Palestinian rhetoric and the rejection of recognition of Israel as a Jewish homeland Author: Or Avi-Guy Categories: Anti-Zionism, Antisemitism, Palestinians, Updates    

The question of Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state is now at the centre of the public debate about the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. While Israeli officials and expert commentators have explained the logic behind Netanyahu's pursuit of Palestinian recognition of a Jewish state, the opposite question was too rarely posed to the Palestinians- why not?

Updates
The Last Word: A+ for AIPAC
Netanyahu acknowledges the AIPAC audience

The Last Word: A+ for AIPAC Author: Jeremy Jones Categories: America, International Jewry    

Some years ago, I was invited to attend the Annual Policy Conference of AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. At that time, attendance was in the hundreds and the agenda narrowly focused.

This year I returned to AIPAC as an invited speaker on the subject "Israel and Asia - New Frontiers?" - in recognition of AIJAC's work in this region.

Estimates of total attendance at the conference ranged from 14,000 to as many as 17,000 people...

Essay: With Friends Like These...

Essay: With Friends Like These... Author: Efraim Karsh Categories: Middle East, Palestinians    

For most of the twentieth century, inter-Arab politics were dominated by the doctrine of pan-Arabism, postulating the existence of "a single nation bound by the common ties of language, religion and history... behind the facade of a multiplicity of sovereign states". No single issue dominated this doctrine more than the "Palestine question" with anti-Zionism forming the main common denominator of pan-Arab solidarity and its most effective rallying cry. But the actual policies of the Arab states have shown far less concern for pan-Arab ideals, let alone for the well-being of the Palestinians, than for their own self-serving interests.